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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Teaching Brie Shapes

I didn’t initially want to work with Brie on shapes, until she could at least tell me the number of sides.  I might have even waited until she could understand an angle, or a corner.  I just wasn’t convinced there was value to having her memorize names of random objects that she clearly wouldn’t understand.  

The other day, when my daughter pointed at the tile in the mall bathroom and said “Square!”, I realized how glad I am that I gave up on that particular piece of philosophy. She loves identifying shapes and considers her box of shapes a prized toy. Not only that, her understanding far surpasses what I expected.

Kids toys and puzzles provide tons of hands on experience with the most common shapes. I wanted a set of shapes that were a little more instructional in nature, so I also acquired a set of attribute blocks and a set of pattern blocks. Below are activities that we tried, some of which were great, and others which were not. I would love to hear how other parents are exploring shapes with their children to move beyond memorizing.

Matching Shape Blocks
This has been Brie’s favorite activity, and I think the one with the most value conceptually.  Using pairs of shapes, I place 2 shapes (e.g. a circle and a triangle) on the table.  I then hand her the other triangle ask her to “match” (I name the shape as I hand it to her).  We worked our way up to 3, 4 and 5 shapes on the table, and even to matching the same shape but different sizes (i.e. big circle with little circle).  I am curious how she would respond to less uniform shapes, like a triangle with 3 different length sides, I might try that next.

Drawing Shapes
My daughter is not even 2 yet so her fine motor skills still need developing.  She has though, learned how to draw a circle (of sorts) and loves to draw them everywhere. She also loves for me to draw shapes on napkins at restaurants for her to identify. However, when I tried to have her trace her shape puzzle pieces onto paper, it turned out to be nearly impossible for her to hold and trace the piece.  I intend to get some shape stencils, which would not require her to move her tracing hand around the hand holding it still.  I think tracing the edges will reinforce the differences of the shapes (especially ones with more sides) and increase understanding.

Shapes Around Town 
As I mentioned above, Brie will sometimes shout out a shape name in public places and eagerly point out her discovery to me.  (Which is not always the most sanitary...)  Out of the house environment the trickier shapes get confused often.  Although Brie knows the words pentagon, hexagon, and octagon (mostly because of her puzzles) she is not clear on the distinction between them.  The words 5, 6 or 8 sides don’t mean anything to her yet, so I try to have her trace the shape with her finger and then tell her which one it is.  When I point to a shape and ask her to name it, I stick to the basic circle, triangle, square and rectangle.  

1 comment:

  1. Writing takes time, we are still working on that with James. I actually got him a M&D wipe board, and special crayons that work on it. we practice writing #'s, letters, and shapes...